The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) that challenged the decision of the Gujarat and Uttarakhand governments to set up a committee for introducing a Uniform Civil Code (UCC), saying the petition was devoid of merit and the Constitution empowers the states to form such committees, reported Live Law.
A bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and also comprising Justice PS Narasimha said the plea filed by Anoop Baranwal and others does not warrant being entertained.
“They have constituted a committee under executive powers under Art 162. What’s wrong with it? Either you withdraw or we dismiss. Constitution of a committee cannot itself be challenged as ultra vires,” CJI Chandradhud observed.
Article 162 of the Constitution states that the executive power of a state shall extend to the matters with respect to which the legislature of the state has the power to make laws.
The BJP-ruled states of Gujarat and Uttarakhand have formed committees to study aspects of implementing UCC in the respective states. A UCC involves having a common set of laws governing marriage, divorce, succession, inheritance, guardianship and adoption for all Indians, regardless of their religion, gender and sexual orientation.
In May, the Uttarakhand government formed a five-member expert committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge for implementing UCC in the state. Earlier in March, after the first cabinet meeting of the newly formed government, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had announced to form a committee of experts for its implementation.
In Gujarat, ahead of the December elections, the Bhupendra Patel-led government had decided to set up a committee to implement UCC in the state. The committee will be headed by a retired high court judge and will have three to four members, Union minister Parshottam Rupala had said.
The union government has maintained that UCC falls within the domain of legislature, even as several petitions challenging it are pending before the apex court.